“Shall I lose weight or not?” The answer to this question is often THE ANSWER that will determine one’s health and weight destiny. The logical answer often is a definite “YES, absolutely I will lose weight!” However, in reality, the answer for most Americans is “No, not right now.”
Let’s look at some of the reasons:
Why people “Just Say No” to weight loss:
Reason #1: “Weight loss is hard.”
Finishing high school or college can be hard, building a house is hard, treating cancer is hard, planning for retirement can be hard, and even filling out a government form can be hard. Weight loss requires at least some effort, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Lots of difficult things are worth doing.
We often simply need help from people who care and who can provide support and guidance to maximize our success in a timely manner!
TRUTH: Goals that have value always require effort. Get help. Embrace effective strategies!
Reason #2: “I don’t like to exercise.”
Okay, but how about having an active lifestyle? Thin, fit people are active people. Think back to the happiest years of your life. Wasn’t being active a core part of the adventure, joy, and “fun” that made those the best years ever?
I’ve challenged many people on this statement, because we thrive with health and vitality only when we are active. It doesn’t have to be “exercise” at a gym. I don’t like that either. But without proper physical activity, human bodies are like fish out of water. Research has shown the following undeniable benefits of proper activity:
- Activity improves mood: 30 minutes of brisk walking 3 times per week elevates the mood better than prescription anti-depressants! Our brains work better and we are happier if we are physically active.
- Activity increases life span. Individuals who engage in at least 60 minutes of fitness time every week will live, on average, 6.2 years longer! Count me in! (And that’s just 9 minutes a day!)
- Activity improves energy and metabolism. If you have a sluggish metabolism, increasing your activity level is a sure-fire way to improve it.
- Activity improves health. Diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, anxiety, sleep, energy levels, mental focus, and cancer risks all improve with regular physical activity.
- Activity supports weight loss. After all, every action uses energy (calories).
With all those benefits, why doesn’t everyone LOVE physical activity? I’ve discovered the following reasons. And they have nothing to do with not liking an active, fun-filled lifestyle…
- Less Energy: Fatigue robs people of energy levels, decreasing activity.
- Joint Pain: Weight gain makes joints hurt, making activity uncomfortable.
- Time Cost: TV, computers, work and video games rob people of time for activity.
- Weight Gain: Carrying an extra 30, 50, or more pounds makes activity “hard work”.
Most people agree that physical activities, like hiking, bike-riding, leisurely walks, active vacations, bowling, travel, swimming, gardening, and playing Frisbee are far more fun and memorable than sitting on the couch and watching the same old “stuff” on TV. So, are you going to just let life pass you by while you stay home on the couch? Is that really what you want? We both know that is not what you want.
TRUTH: Being physically active is what humans do to be trim, fit, healthy, and happy!
Reason #3: “I can’t afford it.”
Is being overweight the less expensive option? Consider some of these costs of NOT losing weight:
- Excessive medical expenses. On average, those with obesity spend an extra $1,426 a year on medical expenses. Over 50% of healthcare costs are for “diseases” caused by overeating of unhealthy foods and being overweight.
- Unnecessary deaths. 112,000 deaths each year in the U.S. are due to being overweight.
- More chronic disease. More chronic diseases are linked to obesity than smoking, drinking, or poverty. Examples include stroke, heart disease, many cancers, sleep apnea, arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatigue, and diabetes.
- Loss of productivity. Obesity reduces productivity at home and at work.
- Fewer job options. Job opportunities and promotions are less likely if obese.
- Lower quality of life. Quality of life is less if overweight. Relationships suffer (including less physical intimacy), social outings become stressful, shopping for clothes can induce tears, and disabilities for things like hiking, jogging, or bike riding are common.
- Self-esteem suffers. Self-esteem is a delicate and precious thing. Although we all struggle, those with excess body weight often have a daily obstacle to proper self-esteem.
- Financial costs to communities. The Topeka Capital Journal reported in 2012 that in the city of Topeka alone, obesity costs are believed to be $109,000,000 per year! Reducing obesity rates from 33% (8th highest rate in the country) to 15% would save the community 60 million dollars in medical and productivity losses from obesity.
TRUTH: Being overweight is the most damaging and costly disease in the U.S. It is bankrupting families, cities, and our nation, not to mention robbing people of joy and quality of life. We can no longer afford NOT to control weight. It’s clear. Staying overweight is not an affordable option!
Reason #4 to NOT Lose Weight: Everyone else is overweight, why should I be any different?
Actually, millions of Americans have lost significant weight or are maintaining their normal, healthy weight. Weight loss is possible. Approximately 100 million Americans are at a normal, healthy weight. If you are overweight, pursue the alternative… passionately!
TRUTH: 1/3 of Americans maintain a normal, healthy weight and are enjoying the benefits. Do you really have to miss out for the rest of your life?
Summary: Many patients have said they just can’t continue being overweight. Often, it is a new diagnosis of high cholesterol, joint pain, or sleep apnea that has pushed them to the limit of tolerance. For others, the cost of medications for these diseases has given them a new point of pain. In others, chronic fatigue or low self-esteem has them motivated and they are just plain ready to “feel good” again.
Assess where your weight and health is now and where it is headed. Set personal goals regarding your weight and health. Then, embrace effective strategies that will empower you for success. We understand that weight loss has its challenges and are available to work with you to develop a personal treatment plan at any time. Learn more at www.taguenutrition.com.
For Optimum Health,
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.